Kris and I really enjoyed the emerging event this past Friday and Saturday in Austin, TX, at Gateway Church (pastor John Burke, ofNo Perfect People Allowed). Here are a few of our thoughts on the weekend that revolved around the multi-authored book Beliefs of the Emerging Church:
First, we are thankful to John Raymond and Zondervan, along with a few sponsors, for this event. John has been a friend of ours for many years (and his dad was my basketball coach in college, and John the manager of the team), and we have lots of hilarious memories when he lived with us for a time during his days at Trinity. John is a widely respected authority in the emerging movement, and may know more than anyone about this movement. And we are just as thankful to Gateway Church for hosting it. Their facilities there in Austin are awesome.
Second, many of you are aware that Dan Kimball’s father is not doing well health-wise, and so Dan was with his mom and dad in New Jersey. We missed him. Our prayers are with his whole family.
Third, Josh Carney, a young teacher pastor at University Baptist in Waco, pinch-hit for Dan and splendidly contributed to the conversation. Lindsay and their little boy, Roy, came along and constantly reminded us of the family nature of the event. [Josh, it needs to be observed, is a Green Bay Packers fan.] In listening to and conversing with Danielle Shroyer, at Journey, it became obvious to Kris and me why so many see her as an articulate and wise young leader in the emerging movement worldwide. Doug Pagitt, who wrote one of the best books (Church Re-imagined) we have on what local ministry looks like among the emerging movement (also see his An Emergent Manifesto of Hope, kept everyone honest and on their toes.
And rounding off this team of panelists and presenters was John Burke, teaching pastor at Gateway and the author of a very fine book about creating a come as you are culture in a church (No Perfect People Allowed). It was great to be with John Burke again, and his humble, honest, and compassionate gospel work in Austin is one worth observing and learning from.
It was my responsibility to facilitate conversation about what these leaders and their churches believe, so we asked questions about Scripture and atonement. On Saturday morning we broke up the group into four so that each of the panelists (minus yours truly) could ask questions of these pastors on emerging churches, and then I presented some ideas on the emerging movement as a safe place for questions. Then four in the crowd asked great questions for our panelists about the difficulties they are having in ministering.
One of the most outstanding features of this event was the spirit of conversation with respect to other churches. There have been some times when the emerging movement has been critical — too critical — of the evangelical movement or traditional churches. No more. I saw nothing but appreciation and respect. I saw this not only in the more traditional emerging leaders, Danielle and Doug, but also in a young emerging pastor, Josh. There was even a respect (of course with healthy disagreements) for what megachurches are doing. Kris observed that finally there seemed to be a spirit that we are all in this together for the good of the Kingdom.
Another feature of emerging events is connecting with others in the same journey. It was great to see my former NPU colleage and now a professor/administrator at Vanguard, Daniel de Roulet (Finding Your Plot). We met so many readers of this blog, including Scott Morizot and Anni Judkins. And we were glad to meet Carla Barnhill from Solomon’s Porch; we have heard of her work so many times it was nice to meet her in person. I took my usual beating for never wearing blue jeans, for never wearing a T-shirt, for folks being able to see my belt, for not having a soul patch, and for tucking in my shirts. Ah, I say to myself, someday these folks will start dressing their age, too. Next time I will have a T-shirt with a special saying.
Too clarify for those who urged us … yes … Rudy‘s was our lunch for both days. Kris snapped a picture of John and me at Rudy’s.